Education Evolutions #104

Close up of smartphone in hand flickr photo by shared under
a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Now that the school year could be said to be gearing into full swing, it seems as though fall is right around the corner. It is always a bit mad to me how fast things can seem to pass, once we get past the opening days of a school year. It now feels like we are just about to feel the acceleration.

Returning to this practice of culling through readings and sharing has been fun. Every year since I returned to the classroom, I think, “Can I still do this? Do I have the time?” Yet, I quite like forcing myself into a reflective look at what has been giving me a lot to think about. Considering how often I force that kind of thing upon my students, it seems only fair that I impose similar kinds of demands on myself.

This week’s “If you read only one article…” is the last one. I know it is longer and maybe a little wonky for some. However, anyone that has found themselves hooked by the cadre of edustars of what I like to call the digiterati would benefit from reading Benjamin Doxtdator, among other like edubloggers. There is a growing group of educators cashing in their classroom experience for the allure of marketworld’s promises of leadership and consulting opportunities. While I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush, I do sometimes wonder how many edustars couldn’t actually wait to actually leave the school.

Enjoy the sunny, cooler temps and now getting deeper into the real work of the school year now.

Here are three curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

Ode to the poem: why memorising poetry still matters for human connection – The Conversation – Veronica Alfano (4-minute read)

This school year, once I got through the first couple of days machinations, I now begin each of my English classes by reading a poem. There are no real expectations for them associated with it. I simply read it twice, might make a comment or two and then move into the next thing. Very occasionally I might ask them a quick question about it but that’s it.

I have tried this in previous years and faltered at some point, feeling as though I have run out of time. However, this year I am determined to stick to it. For one, poetry terrifies most students, maybe even most people. For many, poetry seems too remote, too obscure, too easy to dismiss and avoid. I would not call my self a poet nor even an expert in poetry but both feel and know it is important, which is why this article appealed to me so much.

For a couple of years, I have considered asking students to memorize a poem for many of the reasons noted in this piece. Alfano highlights many benefits to this practice, which I can personally evidence. There are still whole speeches from Shakespeare plays that are burned into me, as well as a couple of favorite poems. Each has become like a well-worn jacket tucked in the closet, that you rarely wear but could never bring yourself to discard. Still, every once in a while you dust one off and remember why you once loved it so.

We Have Ruined Childhood – The New York Times – Kim Brooks (5-minute read)

This opinion piece from The New York Times over the summer might be considered a polemic, taking at aim a whole range of how adults have ruined childhood and referencing all kinds of sources. As an educator, I have spent quite a few years now reading and thinking about how what we do in schools may contribute to the harm children feel. I suppose becoming a parent gave me a lot of pause for that too.

I also have kind of a soft spot for Peter Gray, having had a real positive correspondence with him some years ago about alternative methods of schooling and education. Plus, he is a local to me, being Boston College professor. He has long advocated some ideas I think are sincerely worth considering by the general education field. There are a host of other sources included too.

Of the other references, Challenge Success is mentioned, which is a main reason why I included it here. The school where I work is partnering with the organization that started at Stanford University this year. As the program is rolled out, there may be more on that to come. It has become exceptionally difficult to argue against some of the points raised in this article.

Beyond Champions and Pirates – A Long View on Education – Benjamin Doxtdator (14-minute read)

I might say this every time I include something by Benjamin Doxtdator but I really like his writing. He is among a handful of K-12 educators that writes regularly online and I can honestly say I regularly learn something from his work. He brings a particularly academic and erudite perspective that I admire and appreciate.

This blogpost is from a few months ago but has been on my mind a lot since the summer where a fascinating exchange erupted on Twitter between a number of social justice driven educators and a handful of edustars from Pirate Press and elsewhere. While at times, some may have believed it to became hostile, I found it particularly intriguing how one side was so determined to dismiss or desired to take the conversation out of the public eye. Yet. I generally feel anyone charging money for a book ought to be able to face some criticism and maybe even engage in some public dialogue.

For Doxtdator’s part, this is an excellent critical reading of the current wave of edustar publishing. He is exceptionally clear about his intentions and criticisms. While it is certainly reasonable not to agree with the criticism, it is nigh impossible to suggest that the opinions expressed in it are unfair, uninformed, or even particularly hostile. He is pretty openly trying to pull the educational conversation in a particular direction, one which I am increasingly aligned. That said, I have not always been as thoughtfully critical of some of the ideas under the microscope here in the past as I have been in recent years. When you know better, hopefully, you do better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.